As we continue to explore the process of becoming divorced, it is important to practice thoughtful "announcements" of this new phase of your life.
While your personal business is just that – personal – this divorce will affect a lot of people. Family and friends will be concerned for your well-being, as well as have questions on how this might change their relationship with you and your spouse.
The way you approach this conversation will be the guide for how your family and friends will view this change, and view you. Think first, speak carefully, and communicate from the heart. Your friends and family will look to you to give them a guide on how they should feel about your news. Whether more like relief or devastation, do your best to let them know this is your hurdle, and while you need their support, you are not asking them to pass judgement or share the burden.
Keep private those things that are truly no-one else’s business. Focus these conversations on what is important to the relationships with your friends and family moving forward.
When it comes to your children, the best tactic is to tell them together. Rehearse (together) exactly what you will say. Role play with each other on what questions will likely come up so that not only are you prepared to answer, but the two of your responses need to say the same thing. Children over toddler age will quickly understand what this separation means – they will want to know, to see that the two of you are still bonded as their parents.
When telling the extended family – depending on the relationship that has been forged through the years – you could tell them together, or apart. Likely there will be some protectiveness that comes to the table, and perhaps even some angst. So telling each family on your own might be the wiser choice for their comfort.
As for friends, go your separate ways. You don't want to put yourself in a situation where yet another argument might spark in front of your closest friends. No one needs to witness that situation.
When I got divorced, I had to realize that some of my friends were really my spouse’s friends. Staying close with them might actually have caused other issues – issues that I was well advised to avoid. For friends who were truly bonded to both of us, it was time to talk to them about not feeling like they have to take sides – or even offer their opinion. What I needed most from them was for them to simply remain a friend.
When it came to my family, it was important for me to accept that while I still may be able to maintain a friendship with my spouse’s relatives, blood truly is thicker than water. You will want to understand that your sister-in-law may no longer feel comfortable going on your annual weekend outing anymore. While your in-laws' relationship with your children will continue, likely that will be without you. Remember that your children will hear and remember pretty much anything you say within earshot – and often repeat it word for word. Keep to yourself any misgivings you might have about how relationships have changed with your spouse’s family; let your children carry on as normally as possible with all family members.
And remember, while you may find that some friends do indeed drift away, it won’t be long at all before you are meeting new people, having new adventures, and creating new bonds.
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